Passing a Girl the Ball

A year ago, an Outlook article in The Post Is America Too Racist for Barack? Too Sexist for Hillary? posed the hypothesis that the two Democratic front runners, both minorities, faced different challenges due to their minority status. While being a white woman establishing herself in the 1970s and beyond helped Hillary Clinton in her education and career, being a black man would help Barack Obama more in terms of national electability for the presidential office.

"Compared with Clinton, says George Lakoff, a linguistics professor and Democratic message guru, 'Obama clearly has it better,'" the article reported. "While many Americans have a sincere sense of sentimentality and nostalgia for... outdated gender roles, a much smaller number have that kind of feeling for racial segregation. There is a sense that, by electing a female president, the nation would be meeting a standard set by other liberal democracies; the election of a black man, by contrast, would be a particularly American achievement, an affirmation of American ideals and a celebration of American circumstances."

In other words, America is more sexist than racist -- at least when it comes to deciding between a black man or a white woman to lead the country.

The day after Obama's 38 vs. 29 percent point win over Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses, I stood courtside at my local Boys and Girls Club watching the finals of holiday hoops camp. The Destroyers and Wizards duked it out amid the cheers of coaches, campers and a handful of parents. Most of the players were boys; the Destroyers had one female player and the Wizards had three.

On the Wizards side, I knew two of the girls from the third grade of my children's school. Both have two years of basketball camp, skills drills and team play under their jerseys. One was taller than nearly all of the boys on the court. The second girl didn't have the obvious advantage of height, but she was quick-footed, athletic and comfortable with the chaos of basketball action. I'd seen both girls play their hearts out during the all-girls recreational basketball season.

To my surprise, both stood quietly near the hoop on Friday, unguarded and empty-handed as the game raged around them.

None of the boys would pass to the girls. Not that the boys were hogs -- they repeatedly gave the ball to boys who were shorter, less athletic, pudgier and slower than the girls, even after the boys fumbled the ball clumsily. The girls watched, open, from under the hoop.

I thought of Hillary Clinton's disappointing performance and Obama's success in the first pregame of the national political season. When you include Edwards' points, the boys outscored the girl 68 to 29 percent. The New York Times and other newspapers accused Clinton of mistakes in Iowa -- of not taking Iowa seriously enough, of getting off to a slow start there. We're early in the 2008 political season. Far more will be revealed about the candidates and American's preferences and prejudices as the primaries roll on.

But I wondered: Is there more here? Would Americans rather pass the ball to a black man than a white woman?

I'm not so sure about whether this premise holds water. And certainly we have no shortage of discrimination in our country; at many levels, it's divisive and destructive to argue whether racism or sexism is more prevalent. It would be a victory over prejudice to have either a black man or a white woman in the White House.

But I do know that all my life I've witnessed an undercurrent of gender prejudice by both men and women in myriad arenas. The manager in my last job who told me he hoped I enjoyed my "vacation" as I headed off to deliver my third child after six months of working 12-hours days and juggling the needs of two toddlers. Teachers who called on male students disproportionately more than female students. Peewee soccer coach dads surprised to face soccer coach moms. The 15.6 percent of women in top executive positions in the business world, the stubborn pay gap between men and women, and discrimination against women at work that increases based on how many children they have. It's hard to lead a truly "balanced" life as a woman (or girl) when the playing field is uneven and some teammates still won't pass you the ball due to what seems to be innate, stubborn cultural distrust of women's capabilities (prejudice your peers may not be aware of themselves).

Back at the Boys and Girls Club, I asked the girls why the Wizards hadn't passed them the ball more often. They repeated words of a teammate before the big game: "You girls can stand there doing your cutesy thing while we win this game." The Wizards lost 10-4. At some level, in politics and life, we all lose when boys won't pass to girls.

Full disclosure: I've contributed to both the Clinton and Obama campaigns.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  January 7, 2008; 8:30 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
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First!

Posted by: fred | January 7, 2008 8:47 AM

Even though I like Obama more than Clinton, reading this post makes my blood boil a little. The thought of those two girls under the basketball hoop... It's true that there is a subtle but pervasive exclusion of girls and women all over the place -- from punk rock shows to the corporate board room.

Posted by: JEGS | January 7, 2008 9:10 AM

wonderful article Leslie...

a tip for the girls: In stead of standing under the basket, they need to go ahead and make the inbound pass. Insist on being part of the team. Take the ball and drive it. Take the ball. One can't play without being active, insistent and demanding. Standing around doesn't cut it...even if they're open and seemingly open to score.

This is particularly apropos considering yesterday's ACC beginning game for...ahem...UNC! Girls could watch the last few minutes of that game to see how to play to win for themselves and for their team.

Posted by: dotted_1 | January 7, 2008 9:16 AM

white women are NOT a minority! They may be grossly under-represented in power circles, but that does not make them a minority.

Posted by: topicaltimely | January 7, 2008 9:22 AM

another comment: it is the coach's fault if the boys won't pass to the girls. The coach, whether male or female, lost the game for the team by not forcibly and deliberately telling the boys to pass to their team members, the girls.

Posted by: dotted_1 | January 7, 2008 9:24 AM

How much of this is race and sex, and how much is personal to the candidates and their platforms? Instead of Hillary Clinton versus Barack Obama, suppose Democratic voters were being asked to choose between Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona and former Democratic contestant Reverend Al Sharpton. Still think they wouldn't pass the ball to the "girl"?

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | January 7, 2008 9:34 AM

I don't know that I find the two things comparable. To my mind, the little girls who stood there without playing reflects more on poor coaching, and team building. Perhaps even, working with the girls to nudge their way into the game as well.

I don't see where failing to elect Clinton just because she's a woman is somehow a blow to women. As a woman, I would hope to see her get elected on her own merits. And I can't find many merits in the Clinton camp. I support Obama because he's been running a better campaign and I like his positions. Hillary went negative, and she's not the folksy personality type that plays well in Iowa. It wasn't exactly a shocking outcome. Nor do I find it sexist.

Sexism is a real problem in America but lets not water it down by being concerned if Hillary doesn't get a free pass to the nomination.

Posted by: bmccannn | January 7, 2008 9:35 AM

If it is divisive and destructive to argue whether racism or sexism is more prevalent, than why write this column?

I suspect that you can only relate to sexism.

No! Americans would rather pass a ball to a better player in this case!

I have no problem electing a woman, just not this woman!!!!

From a Woman

Posted by: Angela | January 7, 2008 9:37 AM

Dotted -- Yes, absolutely, the coach's fault. (Irony here: he is a young black man.) He is a great coach, fair in most things, open, wonderful to the kids. But he is part of the problem -- he didn't "see" the girls open under the basket. He had no clue anything was amiss. Everything on the court looked fine to him -- he's used to boys dominating co-ed games, he's used to the status quo. That doesn't make the status quo right or fair. What do we do to raise awareness among men about problems of prejudice they are oblivious to?

And TT: If you are going to argue that white women in the US don't "deserve" minority status because they are not a minority in population numbers, what about women in Saudi Arabia, for instance? They are not a minority in terms of population, but they sure are in terms of rights and freedom. Minority in our country can not be oversimplified by measuring status in terms of population percent. If you use that standard, then really wealthy white men like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are "minorities" because there are so few of them! How are you defining "minority"?

Posted by: leslie4 | January 7, 2008 9:40 AM

This does make my blood boil, but I have an example of just the opposite- the first day that an 8 year old boy showed up at my daughter's contemporary dance school. I will spare you all a long story, but most of those girls were nothing but mean to that poor kid. He was sweet, and quite talented. Eventually they backed off. I was surprised by my daughter's reaction to him. I thought that we were specifically teaching our girls that boys and girls- could do anything. Gender stereotypes still run pretty deep.

Posted by: michelewilson | January 7, 2008 9:43 AM

Obama vs Clinton to me is not a race/gender issue. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton are pretty divisive personalities and she lacks his oration skills. It's certainly not over yet. I was faintly amused that Hillary using the same "comeback kid" line that Bill did in '92.

Posted by: tntkate | January 7, 2008 9:45 AM

Leslie: The idea that our sociologists have created a new meaning for the word minority (which USED to mean that there are fewer numbers than others, but now means something else - something more nebulous) is quite 1984 of us. There could be other words to use, yet we just make up new meanings for words that had perfectly good meanings before.

Clinton is hysterical to me. She has a little more experience than Obama who has almost none. Yet her speeches are talking about having someone with experience, etc. I do so remember when Bill was elected - it was as much of a surprise to him as anyone, maybe more so to him - and his first few months, maybe first year, showed how inexperienced he was for the role of pres. But he grew into it. As most people in the job do - because they have to. So when I watched her saying those things over the weekend with regard to experience, all I could do was laugh.

I don't think it's sexism against Hillary, I think she is a very polarizing person and so some people don't like her. For some, the more you get to know her, the more you don't like her. So with a primary like Iowa, where she is actually connecting with the voters either they didn't like her message or she seemed NOT to connect one to one - as she has up til now (and I think still) been very calculating and callous on how she connects with people - not seeming to want to have conversations with people, not wanting to take questions that weren't put together by her people, etc (very unlike the image her husband projects).

offtopic to ATB: glad to hear the bread thing is working out for you!

Posted by: atlmom1234 | January 7, 2008 9:49 AM

absolutely true that i relate to sexism far, far more than racism as i'm a white woman. this does not mean that sexism is more pervasive or serious than racism; to the contrary, i think racism is more destructive a force in our country right now, on a national level. however i'm naturally more attune to sexism v. racism personally.

i try (hard) to understand what it is like to experience racism. last year i conducted a national survey to try to understand the different experiences of black and white women in america. the results helped educate me, tremendously.

but it would be insulting to pretend i understand racial prejudice, as i have never experienced it firsthand. the best i can do is to raise my own awareness of the problem and listen to people who experience racism every day. this is what i'd like men to do to understand sexism.

Posted by: leslie4 | January 7, 2008 9:54 AM

But really, we have our own experiences and they are all valid - even if you are a white male. I had an asian friend one time tell me how my experiences with 'isms' weren't as important as hers (not in so many words). It was quite awkward. As I'm Jewish, sometimes I've been privy to things that people say without knowing that - and sometimes they say things that are eye opening.

So people don't *see* I'm a minority so they don't always know, so they say things to me that they wish they haven't once they find out.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | January 7, 2008 10:01 AM

Seems careless and little to compare the Democratic Party primaries to a game of basketball being played by children. And then to project the "sexism" displayed by these children to the American voters. It evokes a visceral response when none is necessary.

And you might want to support it with more data than "the boys outscored the girl 68 to 29." Or, you might want to explain why most voters were equally willing to pass to John Edwards as they were to Hilary Clinton but more willing to Barack Obama?

Posted by: JosephPulitzer | January 7, 2008 10:05 AM

Dotted, you are right that it is partly the coashes fault (its also parents and teachers and all figures in a position of authority in our society who continue to model this sort of behavior for children) but it needs to be done in a "(the name of the girl child) was open udner the basket, pass it to her" as opposed to "make sure you also pass to the girls". It needs to be taught that they are all just players, and equal ones, and gender shouldn't matter. Because I remember being in school when teachers thought they were helping by doing things like requiring a certain number of girls to be in the game at a time or telling the boys that girls had to be allowed to play in the games during recess etc., which just served to further separate us and make us different from each other, which then leads to resentment on the part of the boys and kind of embarassment for the girls who feel forced upon the game.

We need to keep that in mind.

Posted by: EAR0614 | January 7, 2008 10:05 AM

My husband eventually quit as the coach of our daughter's coed team when our daughter (also taller and talented) was repeatedly excluded. Other dads would tell their sons, "are you letting a girl beat you to the ball?"

She switched to swimming where boys and girls have to both do well for the team to win.

Posted by: kirstenpaulson | January 7, 2008 10:13 AM

Kids are very busy trying to figure out what it means to be a 'girl' or a 'boy' and that's bound to spill out on the basketball court, the classroom -- everywhere. They are looking for guidance from the adults and I wish the coach had been able to provide it.
I'd like to believe that once we grow up and become more secure in our identities that gender matters less. I don't believe gender is affecting my choice among presidential candidates, for example.
Personally I think the critical issue for women relates to what happens when they become mothers. The numbers suggest that bosses are reluctant to hire and promote 'mothers' but that young childless women face far fewer obstacles to professional success than they did in the past. The reality is that my responsibilities as a mother DO make me less available to my employers. So the problem may not be gender as much as an American attitude to work that means any up-and-coming employee is expected to be available 24/7. I'm pleased to see evidence that younger workers aren't buying this crock! They want work-life balance before they have kids not just after!
I'm not saying sexism doesn't exist -- just that we should be careful to consider other factors in play.
That said I'm still proud to see the Democratic field include a woman, a black man and an Hispanic. And I shouldn't be proud -- it should be the most ordinary thing in the world that we recognize and promote leadership talent wherever we find it.

Posted by: anne.saunders | January 7, 2008 10:20 AM

This is a little OT, but...

"are you letting a girl beat you to the ball?"

If I EVER hear my husband say that to our son, there will be blood.

Posted by: Corvette1975 | January 7, 2008 10:22 AM

anne, again you are tops in eloquence and solid reasoning in my book. thanks -- i am proud too of the candidates running in this race, and proud of younger generations' approaches to work/life balance. change sometimes seems slow but the truth is progress not perfection.

Posted by: leslie4 | January 7, 2008 10:25 AM

Oh, c'mon. So, if Hilary loses the election it's because of sexism and if Obama loses it's racism? Couldn't the answer simply be that Hilary isn't as good of a candidate as Obama, not that people are unwilling to "pass the ball to a girl"?

Yes, the basketball story is unfortunate but that's not a good analogy. Hilary isn't timidly waiting by the basket, waiting for the boys to pass her the ball. She was the favorite, 900 pound gorilla from the get-go who started with a playing field tilted in her favor. Name recognition, money, and a ready-made network of experienced organizers are all advantages Hilary started with that had more to do with the man she married than the content of her character.

And, while we're on the topic of -isms, why not bring up nepotism, which seems to have more to do with political success than racism or sexism?

Posted by: varmau | January 7, 2008 10:29 AM

"Everything on the court looked fine to him -- he's used to boys dominating co-ed games, he's used to the status quo. That doesn't make the status quo right or fair."

You lost me here. Initially, we were talking about passing the ball to the girls who were taller and could, because of their basketball skills, meaningfully contribute to winning. How can everything on the court look fine to this coach if there were tweaks he could have made in strategy that would have produced a "W"? If your point is that the boys should pass to the girls as a strategy for winning, then I'm with you. If you think that coaches and teammates should pass to the girls regardless of skill-set simply because that strikes you as "right" and "fair", then you are advocating teaching the boys that girls get in the way of success, but have to be humored to soothe the PC crowd. No thanks. That's a lesson my kids don't need.

dotted - as always, you nailed this one. It's a failure to coach, not a player problem, and not a "fairness" problem.

Posted by: mn.188 | January 7, 2008 10:42 AM

Women are not a minority. Women are a "protected class." It is not necessary to be a minority to be a protected class. The nineteenth-centuray American historian, John Lord, wrote this about India:

"The English never had over fifty thousand European troops, aside from the native auxiliary army, to hold India in subjection, with a population of nearly three hundred millions. . . ."

Just as a tiny minority of Brits once held a huge majority of native Indians in subjection, so a minority of men took advantage of being bigger and stronger to hold a majority of women in subjection. That's why women are a protected class, that's why there's a Violence Against Women Act, and that's why wise employers interdict sexual harassment in their workplaces by having their employees take Sexual Harassment Interdiction Training every year.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | January 7, 2008 10:51 AM

Thanks varmau. That's pretty much what I was going to say.

Though I'm going to add - those girls shouldn't have stood under the hoops. Those girls should have been fighting for the ball. Because I know fully well as a woman who worked in "men's" fields that boys of any age won't see you as "cutesy" if you make them bleed, literally or rhetorically speaking. You don't have to be unladylike while doing so, but you can't be afraid to step out of the passive role that's been assigned to you...like sitting under a hoop, hoping someone will pass a ball to you.

I'm not a fan of Hillary Clinton (nothing to do with gender, don't really like her politics - I'm still hoping for an against-all-odds Bill Richardson rally at this point), but at least she's in the battle.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | January 7, 2008 10:54 AM

I found it interesting/ironic that the guy talking about Obama having an edge over Clinton is a linguist. I personally have a feeling that many Americans would not vote for Obama not only because he is black, but because the name Barak Obama is too similar to Osama Bin Laden and other terrorists. While that sounds ridiculous to anyone educated or well-informed about the candidates, there are many, many ignorant people out there who buy into stereotypes about race and nationality and I believe they represent the voting majority. I think that living in DC gives a false sense of political correctness and tolerance; in many areas of the country prejudice strongly prevails. I think that, to the ignorant majority, a female president might be the lesser of two evils.

Then again, what do I know, if Obama is ahead of Clinton at this point?

As far as prejudice in sports, I have to say that I was lucky to never have experienced that when I swam competitively and ran track up until college. I was given much kudos and recognition by both male coaches and male team mates. That said--and I can say this without bragging now because it's no longer true!--I was a much better athlete than many of my male counterparts so there was no question that I was ever being "cutesy"--if anything the only negative looks I ever got from guys were when I beat them ;)

I also have had the same experience as atlmom many times--my husband and kids are Jewish, as was I until I converted to Christianity a few years ago, and I can't even tell you how many times people have made anti-Semitic comments to me not knowing I was Jewish. I have also been shocked at the difference between living in Chevy Chase and Olney; I can't tell you how many times, since I've lived in Olney, I've heard racist or anti-Semitic comments. Between the N word being tossed around casually and frequently and comments about how undesirable a certain club is because "there are so many Jews there," you'd think Olney was the deep South or something. I have also been shocked by the stories I've heard from my black friends--from being pulled over by the cops for no reason, frisked at the airport for no reason, denied promotions at work or being fired for something white co-workers get away with regularly--I had no idea such prejudice still existed yet, from the numerous stories I've heard, it definitely does.

Posted by: maggielmcg | January 7, 2008 11:03 AM

maggielmcg |

"there are many, many ignorant people out there who buy into stereotypes about race and nationality and I believe they represent the voting majority. I think that living in DC gives a false sense of political correctness "

DITTO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: chittybangbang | January 7, 2008 11:09 AM

I agree with Dotted and MN and would like to put in a few extra words.

Standing under the hoop hoping that somebody will pass you the ball doesn't win basketball games. When I played basketball in elementary school, in fact, if a player did this more than 5 seconds, he would be called for a lane violation.

Also, I'm against organizing co-ed teams participating in contact sports. As Leslie pointed out, it changes the nature of the game.

Posted by: GutlessCoward | January 7, 2008 11:14 AM

You all are wrong to blame the girls. Yes you need to be aggressive. But you can't steal from your own players. Teamwork is the name of the game, in basketball, business, politics and life.

Posted by: leslie4 | January 7, 2008 11:18 AM

I'm wondering if those two girls would prefer to play guard, instead. Lots of opportunities to be get your hands on the ball AND demonstrate aggressive play. I know my daughter is a good guard, despite consistently being one of the two shortest players on her team. It sounds as though the two girls were playing their position, as directed by the coach. Odds are good that if they had been passed the ball, there would've been more points on the board.

What a pity. Any chance they'll stick with basketball next year? Co-ed or otherwise? Or try a different sport?

Posted by: maryland_mother | January 7, 2008 11:25 AM

"Americans would rather pass a ball to a better player in this case!

I have no problem electing a woman, just not this woman!!!!

From a Woman"

Well said.

Posted by: RedBird27 | January 7, 2008 11:27 AM

Re: the basketball story: yes, it's definitely a coaching failure. In youth sports, you use your players to the best of your ability within the rules, and the coach has to know how to deal with that.

In sports, boys do tend to ignore or overlook girls, until the girls prove their worth. The coach's job is to (a) give the girl the chance to prove her worth; and (b) make sure she's not treated any differently from any of the boys. The he has to teach all of his players, to make them better, and then use them appropriately in the games.

Our baseball program has a number of girls playing (and a few female coaches, FWIW). Fair or not, the girls have to prove themselves. But they do have the chance, because they get to bat, play the field, and sometimes even pitch. Sometimes the boys learn the hard way - DS once played on a team with a girl who was the best player on the field. Her first at bat, the other team hollered "move in, a girl's up" - only to watch her hit the ball over the left field fence. Her second time up, they moved in again - only to watch the ball disappear over the center-field fence. Her third time up, the hollering was "MOVE BACK! THE GIRL'S UP!"

(Girls can prove themselves in other ways. Another girl in the league became popular by out-belching every boy in the dugout - that's important to 10-year old boys. After she belched them all under the bench, she was "one of the guys" and treated no differently from anybody else.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | January 7, 2008 11:30 AM

I think relatively little of the opposition to Hillary Clinton is because she's a woman; I think most of it is because she's a Clinton. (I could just be naive again, but that's the way I see it.)

Let's face it, she had her Senate seat essentially handed to her in the same way that RFK did. Sen. Moynihan was retiring; he thought she represented the best chance to keep the seat in Democratic hands. He talked her into establishing residence in New York and running; more importantly he cleared the Democratic field for her by convincing such well-qualified female candidates as Rep. Nita Lowey and Rep. Carolyn Maloney not to run against Clinton.

It's been assumed by many for the last 8 years that Hillary Clinton would be running in 2008. She's very similar to GW Bush in that she has a large organization to build from (her husband's, where GW had his father's). Money, organization, etc. were never a question. It was simply "could she get votes?"

I know of a number of people who have been put off by her position switches (epitomized by her debate position of both supporting and opposing Eliot Spitzer's plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens. Regardless of your view on the issue, clearly taking both sides within two minutes is pretty obvious. She's very similar to Mitt Romney in that regard.)

I have no doubt that there are SOME people who oppose her because she's a woman, but there are very few jurisdictions in this country that don't have powerful female politicians already. There are a number of jurisdictions you would probably classify as "red-state", "conservative", etc. that have elected women to powerful offices already.

(Examples? Louisiana, with Sen. Mary Landrieu and former Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco; Texas, with Sen Kay Bailey Hutchison; Arizona, with the above-mentioned Gov. Janet Napolitano; Arkansas, Sen Blanche Lambert Lincoln; etc.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | January 7, 2008 11:40 AM

ArmyBrat - i love your 'belching' story.

and MN! did you watch the game last night?

Posted by: dotted_1 | January 7, 2008 11:54 AM

"yes, it's definitely a coaching failure."

Army Brat, everyone knows better than the coach! I'm sure you are familiar whith this concept, right?

Posted by: GutlessCoward | January 7, 2008 12:00 PM

The most disturbing thing to me about Leslie's basketball story is the
score: 10-4. BOR-ING!

Posted by: michaels | January 7, 2008 12:30 PM

Talk all you want. It's irrelevant. For whatever reason, the Democrats have decided to nominate Barack Obama. Apparently, most Dems want to see eight more years of Republican rule. Fair enough. I guess it makes white Democrats feel good to vote for an African-American. Hope that "Feel Good" stuff carries them through eight years of Mike Huckabee forcing retarded 15-year olds who are raped by their stepfathers to have the baby. Oh yeah, Huckabee is a real feel-good guy.

Posted by: antipATRICK | January 7, 2008 12:33 PM

I didn't vote for Bill and I ain't votin' for Hillary. 'Course I didn't vote for the Bushes either, but I fully supported Gore and Kerry. Pelosi, for me, would be a better candidate than Carpetbagger Clinton. Not saying that others haven't done it, its just that everyone knew from the day she announced for New York she had the presidency on her radar. What...she couldn't do it from Arkansas? Every one of her moves is broadcast by polls and media before it happens. No surprise, no ingenuity, no self. That's why I don't want her as president.

I'm pretty much disappointed by most of the field. DW and I discussed over the weekend and we feel that there will be another Repub pres next term because none of the Demos are enough by themselves. Maybe a good running mate will help.

Posted by: WorkingDad | January 7, 2008 12:38 PM

Actually, the score shows the boys can't score (seeings how the claim is they hog the ball)...though at tender ages, the scores are pretty low. Anyone else sit through a 2-1 scored game between 8 year olds? I, though, loved it because each shot, well call them a heave in the general direction rather than a shot, *could* have scored. I love games where kids try hard.

Posted by: dotted_1 | January 7, 2008 12:44 PM

Any relationship between kids' reluctance to give girl players ball time and Democratic primary voters' tepid support for Hillary Clinton is spurious, at best.

There is much I admire about HRC, to be sure, but the reality is that she seeks to establish her experience and credentials by largely focusing on her time spent as First Lady (and U.S. Senator, of course, but to a lesser degree). That voters would find this strategy problematic is not gender discrimination. Additionally, a Clinton win in both the primary and general elections would mean that since 1988, two political families have dominated US presidential politics. Again, that voters would find this outcome problematic is not gender discrimination.

Posted by: rlcooperman | January 7, 2008 12:48 PM

I think all of the candidates show how we don't really have great candidates to choose from.

I like giuliani, when I hear thompson, he has good stuff to say - but he doesn't have a great way of speaking, actually.

I've heard bloomberg might run, i might vote for him. the more i hear him say, the more i like him.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | January 7, 2008 12:48 PM

"When you include Edwards' points, the boys outscored the girl 68 to 29 percent."

Oh, for the love of God!!! Is anyone actually simple-minded enough to evaluate the Iowa results this way??? Sheesh, Leslie, I know your brain functions better than this.

Posted by: newslinks1 | January 7, 2008 12:49 PM

oh, and no one really talks about anything really important. It really pisses me off.

Like - there is no panacea to having the govt running our health care system. It wouldn't be better.

But that's what the dems keep talking about - ya know, the only one i want to be in charge of my health care is ME. I don't want anyone else to have the ability to make decisions. Cause others will NOT make better decisions for me than I will - not insurers, not the govt, not my company, etc....people need to take responsibility for themselves. If you (as in people) want others to be in charge, then they have to deal with others making decisions - and live with them. You can't have others making your decisions then be angry about those decisions. But that's what will happen with healthcare. As happens with most everything else in this country - we do so like to complain.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | January 7, 2008 1:02 PM

"Fair enough. I guess it makes white Democrats feel good to vote for an African-American"

Posted by: antipATRICK | January 7, 2008 12:33 PM

Maybe Democrats of all colors don't want to add another four years of Yalie rule to the twenty years we've had since January, 1989.

Seriously: A week ago Sunday, before the Iowa caucus, I heard Senator Obama on the radio talking about his plan for health insurance. He would set up a government-run plan to compete with what's out there now. If you don't have insurance, you could get the government insurance. If you do have insurance but can't afford the premiums, you could switch to the government insurance. If you don't have insurance and want to pay your own medical bills out of pocket, you could do that, too. If your Union has fought hard to get you a really good health-insurance plan with great coverage and low co-pays, you could keep that plan.

Senator Clinton, as I understand it (and correct me if I'm wrong), wants to do nationally what Mitt Romney '75L did in Massachusetts, namely, compel everyone to buy health insurance, even people who don't want it. If your Union has fought hard to get you a health-insurance plan that is better than anyone else's plan, well, you don't deserve it, because no one deserves to have better health insurance than anyone else. This means you wouldn't be able to negotiate a lower premium by choosing a policy that leaves out coverage that you feel you don't need but that the Helping-Professions Lobby has got Congress to mandate. You may not need Genetic Insurance, but Senator Clinton's plan would make you pay for Mendel Health coverage anyway.

From what I have heard him say, Senator Obama does not share Senator Clinton's and Governor Romney's Procrustean health insurance ideas. Nor does he share what Prof. Alan Keyes has called "The Vision of the Anointed," which is the conceit that he knows best and that we are too stupid, superstitious and venal to make decisions that affect our lives.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | January 7, 2008 1:11 PM

And what again does this have to do with work-life balance???

Posted by: martinajess | January 7, 2008 1:21 PM

This is just silly. Hillary's unpopularity has nothing to do with her gender. Some of her biggest opponents are educated women (she is quite popular among non-college-educated middle-aged women, but not among any other group. Young women and educated women do not support her politically).

I would be perfectly happy to vote for a female candidate, but I'm not such a moron that I would vote for someone *just* because she's a woman.

Posted by: floof | January 7, 2008 1:24 PM

"I like giuliani, when I hear thompson, he has good stuff to say - but he doesn't have a great way of speaking, actually."

Posted by: atlmom1234 | January 7, 2008 12:48 PM

Uh-oh. I once shared a coast-to-coast drive with the singer who later became Fred Thompson's voice coach. She operates out of Nashville, and I'm sure she'd be disappointed to hear that her pupil's way of speaking has failed to impress a fellow Southerner.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | January 7, 2008 1:27 PM

Let's get one thing straight! I live in the south, have for many years, but am a New Yorker. Always will be. Doesn't matter how long I'm here - my in laws will always call me a carpet bagger.

As for Mr. Thompson's style - he had lots of ums and stuff like that. It worked for Ed Koch, but I'm not sure it works for many others. Other than that, as I said, he has great things to say. He's just not so inspiring...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | January 7, 2008 1:33 PM

Actually, lately I've been wondering how many of our gender differnces actually ARE hard-wired . .
You see, my son comes home from middle school every day wanting to know why the girls always cry during math class when they have trouble with the material -- and I have no rational answer for him. And he's not making it up, and I've seen it myself. And it's not the teacher's fault.

Somehow I keep thinking it's all related. As long as the girls keep crying during math class, no one's going to accept a woman as president.

Posted by: justlurking | January 7, 2008 1:35 PM

justlurking wrote: "As long as the girls keep crying during math class, no one's going to accept a woman as president."

Atlmom and Foamy, do you want to take him/her out, or shall I?

Posted by: mehitabel | January 7, 2008 1:38 PM

Perhaps it's cause while women are just as smart as men, in math class, as well as probably most of classes, the teaching materials have been created to teach to boys. So girls have a tough time since boys and girls learn differently from each other.

This is my opinion - I have no basis other than that is what I think. Considering in middle school when the letters went out about going into honors math, my mom got the letter that said they aren't really quite sure, but they think that perhaps it's possible I might do well in the honor's class. Um, I have a BS in math and an MS in applied math now.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | January 7, 2008 1:39 PM

Mehitabel: i guess we were typing at the same time.

Part of it is also - tho I suspect not as much as before - some type of discrimination in classes. I took an engineering graphics class in college and the only reason I got an A (I was one of 3 or 4 girls there) was because my partner was certifiable (he'd show up to class in bathrobes - if he showed up at all) so I had to do all the group work by myself. I know the prof didn't think I should be able to do it at all, me being a girl and all. And I'm *so* grateful to have learned to program in cobol. Oh, right....

Posted by: atlmom1234 | January 7, 2008 1:42 PM

Atlmom, Great minds think alike!

Posted by: mehitabel | January 7, 2008 1:45 PM

From the CIA's World Factbook:

United States's Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.046 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.996 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.721 male(s)/female
total population: 0.967 male(s)/female (2007 est.)

World's Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.064 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.024 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.781 male(s)/female
total population: 1.014 male(s)/female (2007 est.)

India's Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.12 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.098 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.061 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.908 male(s)/female
total population: 1.064 male(s)/female (2007 est.)

Posted by: maryland_mother | January 7, 2008 1:47 PM

"Between the N word being tossed around casually and frequently and comments about how undesirable a certain club is because "there are so many Jews there," you'd think Olney was the deep South or something."

Yeah, 'cause you'd never hear the N word or anti-semitic comments in one of those nice Northern cities like Boston, NYC or Chicago.

anti-PATRICK, the only thing less appealing than Hillary as a candidate is the arrogance and obnoxious attitude of her supporters with respect to other Democrats. Serving for seven years as a Senator plus being married to a politican does not equal 35 years of experience. Winners have the confidence not to inflate their credentials.

Posted by: mn.188 | January 7, 2008 2:00 PM

MN: I love that! Most of my family is SO arrogant. They are pretty racist when you listen to them sometimes (not all of them, etc).

And then they are out there - subtly talking about how they are so much better than those in the south cause those southerners are so racist (when, actually, down here it's kinda more out in the open, it still exists elsewhere, but they pretend it doesn't exist at all).

Or people say how those southerners are not educated (oh, really? hmmm) or how they all have bad teeth (my sister said this to me once).

Posted by: atlmom1234 | January 7, 2008 2:05 PM

How DARE you compare third grade boys' roundball behavior to the electorate!?!

I grew up in a household of 1970's Gloria Steinem-separatist worshipers.. And THIS type of diatribe is EXACTLY the kind of rediculous observation they try to bring to an adult conversation as evidence of fact. Disgustingly typical.

Is hillary a woman WORTH voting for? THAT is the question you've blinded yourself to that EVERYONE else is asking themselves.

I've watched women go from rookie stockbroker to brokerage office manager in a handful of years, besting all of the men around them. I've also watched women fail in the same environment at much lesser positions. There is no glass ceiling if one does not already exist in your mind. Just like the slave mentality that exists in some people today.

The difference is this: Women who succeed don't worry that men have succeeded before them. Women who I watched fail worried over being accepted and didn't focus first-and-last on getting the highest quality job done in the most efficient manner. It was more about process and being accepted for them. We don't have time in business to worry over these things. We accept you until you un-accept us, or you prove incompetent.

The successful women I know are matter of fact, goal orinted, highly ethical, take reasonable, measured risks and are NOT abrasive. (FYI - EVERYONE hates abrasive people regardless of gender.)

As for assuming hillary is a woman WORTH voting for? (I mean you ARE insinuating in the most disgusting nature that if I don't want her I don't want ANY woman) Well, Leslie, THAT is your mistake.

I'd vote Dianne Fienstein for president in a minute because I clearly understand her positions. But I'll NEVER vote for the word-parsing hillary precisely because nobody can tell me what her exact positions are. I hate word parsers, false smiles, forced laughs, and failed performance. When hillary couldn't even pin down the then-flailing Don Rumsfeld in a congressional hearing I knew she was a presidential loser.

Since you equate adult behavior to the behavior of third grade boys, I'll put my offense taken to you as a third grade boy would: "You need to take that back right now"

Posted by: onestring | January 7, 2008 2:38 PM

MN - as per your comment on winners: there is this great quote from the movie, the replacements, "winners always want the ball. Winners always do" dovetails with the topic de jeur

Posted by: dotted_1 | January 7, 2008 2:39 PM

"United States's Sex ratio:
65 years and over: 0.721 male(s)/female

World's Sex ratio:
65 years and over: 0.781 male(s)/female

India's Sex ratio:
65 years and over: 0.908 male(s)/female"

Posted by: maryland_mother | January 7, 2008 01:47 PM

What does this mean? Does it mean that India is doing a better job than the USA of keeping old men alive longer? In that case, we need a lesson in geriatric medicine from South Asia. Or does it mean that, even though the British got the Indian natives to stop burning widows on their husbands' funeral pyres, the Indians have figured out how to get old ladies to die sooner than they would in the USA? In that case, maybe they need a lesson in civilized behavior from the Bible-thumping, Christian West: "Ye shall not afflict any widow" (Exodus 22:21a).

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | January 7, 2008 2:46 PM

Matt, if you read the statistics, you'll see that India's higher rate of men to women starts at birth and continues all the way through life. And this is in many ways attributable to the Indian practice of aborting girls. See http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/rough/2007/04/the_missing_girlinks.html

for one explanation.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | January 7, 2008 3:11 PM

Why does everything have to be co-ed. Let the girls form a girls team.

Posted by: tomandnancyd | January 7, 2008 3:24 PM

"Why does everything have to be co-ed. Let the girls form a girls team."

The problem is that the sports are different (e.g., baseball and softball are very different games), or the rules are different (e.g., the rules for girls' basketball are very different from the rules for boys' basketball), and sometimes the girls would just rather play the sport or play under the rules assigned to the boys.

(Interesting to note that the boys wanting to play the girls' sport or play under the girls' rules is a completely different matter. E.g., the net in volleyball is higher under boys' rules and coed rules than it is under girls' rules. If boys join the high school girls' volleyball team because there is no boys team, the "coed" team must play with the higher net.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | January 7, 2008 3:47 PM

"Matt, if you read the statistics, you'll see that India's higher rate of men to women starts at birth and continues all the way through life. And this is in many ways attributable to the Indian practice of aborting girls."

China too, but I just grabbed India's first. I figured China's numbers were at least as well known. But here goes!

China
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.11 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.134 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.057 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.914 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2007 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 22.12 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 20.01 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 24.47 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)

India
Infant mortality rate:
total: 34.61 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 39.42 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 29.23 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)

United States
Infant mortality rate:
total: 6.37 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.02 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.68 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)

World
Infant mortality rate:
total: 43.52 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 46.32 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 40.52 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)

Anyway, it's interesting stuff.

Posted by: maryland_mother | January 7, 2008 3:58 PM

I'm prepared to get trounced for this but I'll speak out anyway. I think Hillary is probably the strongest, most intelligent, and most knowledgeable candidate in recent history. But the american people aren't interested in prepared, what they want is charm and reassurance. Hence the cult of Ronald Reagan and the election of G. W. Bush over two obviously smarter and more capable men. It's not about change, never has been about change, it's just the same old daddy make me feel better about the world I'm living in because I don't know how to reassure myself. Hillary just isn't big on reassuring, and it's too bad the spin doctors in her campaign can't teach her how to manufacture that quality becuase she would make a great president.
Fortunately Barack seems to be fairly bright and if we end up with him in office we could do alot worse.

Posted by: pinkoleander | January 7, 2008 3:59 PM

I must just be a die-hard basketball fan, because I enjoy watching eight year olds play, no matter what the score. It's a great spectator sport.

Should be interesting to see what happens tomorrow in NH. My view is that the presidential race has everything to do with work-life balance since whomever gets elected will weigh on FMLA policies, abortion rights, the war in Iraq, taxation policies, funding for VAWA etc...all of which influence my work-life tipping points...

Posted by: leslie4 | January 7, 2008 4:00 PM

pinkoleander - for one i agree totally about your take on clinton and obama. (now you are definitely going to get trounced!)

Posted by: leslie4 | January 7, 2008 4:04 PM

"They [women in Saudi Arabia] are not a minority in terms of population, but they sure are in terms of rights and freedom. Minority in our country can not be oversimplified by measuring status in terms of population percent."

Huh? You're confusing the fact racial minorities in this country have historically been discriminated against with the definition itself of "minority". Leslie, if we went by your definition of "minority" (i.e. determining it by rights and freedom as in your suggestion from Saudi Arabia), then clearly no U.S. citizen, regardless of race, ethnicity, etc., would be in the "minority" as, by law, all U.S. citizens have the same rights and freedom. (This does not address the fact some people face discrimination by others in violation of the law.)

So, Leslie, actually, yes, "minority" does refer specifically to percentage numbers. It always has. In fact, discussions of affirmative action usually revolve around "women and minorities". Why, oh why, Leslie, would the term "women" be separate from "minorities" if women were a minority? Think about it, Leslie.

Posted by: rlalumiere | January 7, 2008 4:05 PM

"anti-PATRICK, the only thing less appealing than Hillary as a candidate is the arrogance and obnoxious attitude of her supporters with respect to other Democrats."

Do you want a Democratic President or not? Take a look at the Drudge Report today. Just look at how many anti-Hillary stories are on that site. It is absolutely riddled with them. Why?? Because Drudge and his fellow Republicans are scared to death of Hillary because they know she might actually win the general election. In contrast, they know Obama has no chance because they are not wearing the rose-colored glasses that some Democrats are. They know that America is not ready for an African-American President. That's a sad statement, but it's true. Travel through the heartland and the south. I can assure you that "African-American" is not the adjective used to describe Obama by the majority of persons. Again, it's sad. But it's America.

Posted by: antipATRICK | January 7, 2008 4:14 PM

pinkoleander, I won't "roast" you; you're certainly entitled to your opinions. I happen to partially disagree.

"strongest, most intelligent, and most knowledgeable"

What do you mean by "strongest"? Generally, a strong campaign is one that wins. If you mean that she has the most internal fortitude, you may be right - she's certainly taken a lot of abuse (some of it even deserved) over the course of her career. But on the other hand, she's getting well-deserved criticism for not being very strong on issues - she seems to flip-flop a lot. Romney is probably the only candidate this cycle getting more criticism for that.

'most intelligent' - you may well be right. She's certainly up there.

'most knowledgeable' - umm, about what? What exactly do you think the difference is between 'intelligent' and 'knowledgeable'?

(FWIW, in his recent book Greenspan states that Nixon and Bill Clinton were far and away the smartest Presidents he ever worked with, but that they were both so personally flawed that it seemed their intellects actually caused them problems.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | January 7, 2008 4:20 PM

ArmyBrat, what does she "flip-flop" on? Which issues has she gone from believing X and disagreeing with Y to the reverse?

Posted by: rlalumiere | January 7, 2008 4:30 PM

ArmyBrat,
I speaking of the fortitude thing. As far as knowledgeable, Hillary has been involved in the american political scene for years and deserves some credit for that. She basically knows everyone in politics and is aware of their strengths and weaknesses. She's had the opportunity to reflect on her eight years of presidency, and acknowledge failed and successful strategies. Certainly there is a big difference between being first lady and being president, but anyone whoe thinks she wasn't debating the issues with her husband on a day to day basis while in the White House is not reading her personality correctly. I think the flip flopping is a result of spending a lifetime in politics and learning from mistakes. Anyone who can stand up to the kind of scrutiny and betrayal that she has faced is definitely a stick to your guns type of personality. I think the flip flopping stuff is just alot of nonsense, but that's my opinion. Thanks for your comments.

Posted by: pinkoleander | January 7, 2008 4:37 PM

rlalumiere, start with this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MB767W3w594

then explain what her current position is on Iraq (and Afghanistan) and reconcile it with her recent votes

Posted by: ArmyBrat | January 7, 2008 4:38 PM

"wonderful article Leslie..."

You're kidding me right??? This is yet another Leslie piece of drivel in which she fails to tackle the real issues facing America. Oh Leslie. Taxes, Iraq, education, ... Do you actually have an opinion on ANYTHING that matters?? Or do you prefer to suck back your six-figure salary from the WaPo and pretend that you're an oh-so-important member of the MSM???? Your Democratic party is about to nominate a totally unelectable person and you do not seem to care. Do you secretly support Mike Huckabee and his ridiculous ideas on taxation and immigration. My God Leslie, do you believe that 15-year old mentally retarded children who are raped should be forced to have their child????

Posted by: antipATRICK | January 7, 2008 7:42 PM

Women push the idea of other women as Commander in Chief, yet you never hear women pushing for women to have to register for the draft. How can you be in charge of the armed forces, when -- by gender -- you have a privledge men don't have?

The title for this is "queen," not president. Women should have equal responsibilities if they want equal treatment. Having to register for the draft is just one in a long line of many.

Posted by: DaysofBrokenArrows | January 8, 2008 7:13 AM

"Having to register for the draft is just one in a long line of many."

Really? What year is it on your planet? The US ended the draft in 1973 on mine.

Posted by: mn.188 | January 8, 2008 9:26 AM

MN.188 is partially correct about the draft. There is no active draft but registration is required for all males between the ages of 18 and 25.

Note that even illegal aliens are required to register!

http://www.sss.gov/FSwho.htm

Posted by: Fred | January 8, 2008 10:28 AM

uh, Fred, with all due respect, I'm not partially right, I'm right. There is no draft. Yes, we have a registration system. I support registration of all persons in the qualifying range, but DaysofBrokenArrows appears to be a one-armed man in a butt-kicking contest.

Posted by: mn.188 | January 8, 2008 11:30 AM

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Tempo volta gratis persone figa galleria,.

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Altre questa modena auto uomo.

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Posted by: Rowina | April 23, 2008 8:15 AM

Delle.

Posted by: Janni | April 28, 2008 10:31 AM

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